Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Charles Henry Hughes Spivey

Charles Henry Hughes Spivey was my mother's father's father. He died before my mother was born, and so I never met him at all.

He was the first non-commissioned officer in the Scots Guards. The family tale was that his family didn't approve of his choice of career or choice of bride, but I don't know how true that was. He's shown below with my great grandmother, Lottie Dickins or Dickens.

I don't remember my grandparents talking much about him other than the fact that he was the first non-commissioned officer in the Scots Guards. I remember my grandmother telling me that she and my grandfather and my grandfather's brother got together an impromptu band and she was jazzing up the death march. She could jazz up any tune on the piano.

Apparently my great-grandfather came in, said: "I've heard to many good men go out to that tune to think that funny," and turned and swept out of the room again. They were duly sobered by that.

My mother Diana Spivey, tells me that she remembers her father telling her that C.H.H. (as I think of him) would never let Lottie use serving dishes for food, because they waited such a long time for all their food in the army that it was invariably cold by the time they got it. Also, if anyone complained about the food, he would growl that they ate rats during the seige of Ladysmith and were glad to have them!

He fought in the Boer war, and was in Ladysmith during the seige (shown above), reputedly eating rats and his boots before the end of it. Oh the other hand, the British invented the concentration camp in the midst of that war, so maybe they deserved to be starved, I don't know.

He was awarded a civilian MBE for his work in mobilising the Scots Guards during the First World War. Apparently all the records had been sent to storage and it was going to take months to retrieve them. He remembered the names and addresses of dozens of men. Not sure how happy they will have been to have been located to go fight for their country, but the Prime Minister was grateful. He said that he didn't want any fuss or anyone to go to Buckingham Palace with him, but Laurie, his step-daughter (Caterina Mondioli) managed to be in the right place at the right time to be snapped.

I hold a number of original documents that come from him. I have his Certificate of Education (First class) from the Army Schools, dated 25 October 1904, in which he is named a Colour Sergeant (O/R?S?) C.H. Spivey.

I have a little red card booklet for the Third Guards Club, in which he appear in the list of members, elected 1928.

I have a ticket for the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary, 22 June 1911.

I have the newspaper cutting about his brother's death in 1914, which is all but destroyed.

I have numerous picture of both him and my great grandmother, at various times.